Our family team created “Z-Bot” for explorers and educators who will go to Mars and beyond to study rocks, atmosphere and stars. Z-Bot affixes itself to Z-Series Space Suit being designed by NASA and can gather spectroscopic data and display it on a screen.
Z-Bot has a laser and a Red Green Blue sensor affixed to it to get Temperature, Color composition and Luminosity data.
It can be used on Earth to estimate age and temperature of stars (whether they are hotter or older than Sun). Our aim is one Z-Bot per Child as it costs less than $15 and all families can make one.
The project was inspired by our visit to the Exploration Space®: Explorers Wanted at the Kennedy Space Centre. We saw the design of Z-SpaceSuit for Mars which allows Astronauts to get suited up from within their rover. Our kids wondered what kinds of tools these Mars Explorer would be having in their hands to aid their exploration and get scientific data.
This led to creation of Z-Bot scientific tool. Z-Bot will be a sturdy, low-cost tool which can be used on Earth (in schools and homes) as well as in Space to get spectrum of bright objects and have them transmitted on the screen which can then be seen by the entire team (including remotely). It makes use of diffraction grating got by cutting an old CD Rom, a web camera, an Arduino, and a cardboard tube.
The diffraction grating was layered on the top of the web camera and the whole assembly was placed in a cardboard tube. A slit was created for light to come in from one end of the cardboard tube and fall on the diffraction grating at the other end.
A Red-Green-Blue (RGB) sensor and laser were added to Z-Bot controlled via Arduino to allow explorers to get additional data such as temperature, color combination, and luminosity of objects. A chart was made to allow users to estimate the temperature and age of stars based on their color composition.
Z-Bot was wrapped with strips of Litmus paper so some information could also be gathered about the surrounding atmosphere and for presence of sulphuric / chloric gases.
The cost of making Z-Bot is less than USD 15 and can be used easily by students, teachers and parents. Children will be able to find out if stars are hotter or colder than our Sun, or if they are younger or older than the sun via the Z-Bot.
Almost 30 children viewed our Z-Bot during Youth SpaceApps 2015 and noted down the spectroscopic image they saw on the chart paper. Many of them took our instructions to make one in their homes!